If you’re at all familiar with the work of Jean Michel Jarre, you might be forgiven for dismissing this CD as mere parody before you even bung it in the CD player—after all, the cover art comprises playful near-facsimiles of classic Jarre artwork. Thankfully, the music itself takes things rather more seriously.

It was very apparent at the time that the likes of Jarre and Vangelis massively influenced C64 composers, and Donné takes this to its logical conclusion, reworking ten C64 tracks in the style of the French knob-twiddler.

This CD could so easily have been a total disaster, but a combination of excellent source material and accomplished production sees it through, creating a Jarre CD that never was. Each track pays homage to a particular era of Jarre’s career, and Donné’s choice of C64 track in each case is often well suited. Furthermore, each composition effortlessly leads into the next, so the CD works as a whole despite the distinct styles within.

After a suitably atmospheric five-minute introductory piece, which pays a cursory nod to the muted industrial sounds of Revolutions, the mood calms a little for the ethereal Equinoxe stylings of Rambo Loading Theme. The abrasive edge to Galway’s original is replaced with a dreamy, layered soundscape, and it comes as quite a shock when the pseudo-industrial Lightforce blasts on to the scene. The clattering percussive elements of the Rob Hubbard original are heightened to great effect, and the track builds and builds, adding layer upon layer of energetic, engaging sounds.

The album moves from one of its highs to the undisputed low: Ben Daglish’s Egyptian leanings within Bombo are shoe-horned into Jarre’s Oxygene and it doesn’t really work. The piece lacks the fluidity of Jarre’s original sound and the tongue-in-cheek humour of Daglish’s. Donné’s track merely comes off sounding stiff and forced.

Cobra and Yie-Ar Kung Fu II follow, both borrowing more from Vangelis than Jarre, and providing the album with something of an identity crisis, even if the tracks themselves aren’t too bad. Just as the interest starts to wane, Donné hits us with the epic Knucklebusters, which must vie for the title of “greatest C64 remix” and is an impressive piece of electronic music in its own right. This 18-minute Zoolook-inspired piece is engaging right from the initial metallic percussion and chilling lead, through the energetic, guitar-laden middle section, and to the ear-wrenching breakdown at the end of the track.

Some much-needed light relief follows with the slightly throwaway Wizball High Score, which makes a nod to Jarre’s Band in the Rain (complete with thunderstorm and reed organ) and wisely ends before the joke wears thin. Two more lengthy, powerful and rather more impressive tracks follow: Miami Vice takes the Galway original and reworks it with glittering synths and a drawling bass lead; and Nemesis the Warlock is a Hubbard epic along the lines of Knucklebusters, albeit somewhat toned down and with a more coherent arrangement.

The album closes with Galway’s Rambo High Score being shoved into an Oxygene mould, but not suffering from the problems of Bombo, and its hopeful, relaxed style is a fitting ending for the CD.

Clearly, if you’re not a fan of Jarre’s work, you should steer clear of Sidologie, and even if you are, you may find some of the arrangements here a little too close for comfort. However, despite a few weak arrangements here and there, Sidologie proves to be a highly listenable album.

Marcel Donné
Sidologie (2003)

Genre: Electronic
Record Label: High Technology Publishing Ltd

Pixelsurgeon Verdict

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